SADC urges national dialogue in Eswatini amid pro-democracy protests
SADC urges Eswatini to hold a national dialogue to address challenges following pro-democracy protests-Brenard Mwanza.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation has urged the Kingdom of Eswatini to initiate a national dialogue to address the challenges facing the country following public protests for democracy, writes Brenard Mwanza.
A follow-up meeting was held in October 2021, but no dialogue has taken place yet. Pro-democracy groups are calling for a change in the government system from a monarchy to a political state.
SADC leaders convened an Extra-Ordinary Organ Troika Summit of Heads of State and Government in January 2023 and urged the government of Eswatini to initiate the process of national dialogue.
SADC is expected to push ahead with plans for the dialogue, but King Mswati III's government insists that it can only happen in a peaceful environment.
"We feel that democracy is the only path that we have to get social services," said Sakhile Awuviva Nxumalo, leader of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO).
In July 2021, public protests destroyed many government offices and businesses, and many rioters were shot dead by security forces.
The recent murder of a leading human rights lawyer and political activist, Thulani Maseko, has further escalated tensions in the country.
"If more SADC leaders join to amplify a similar voice calling for democracy in our country, we may be assured that things will change," said Nxumalo.
Eswatini gained independence in 1968, and its constitution was suspended by King Sobhuza II in 1973.
A new constitution made the king the absolute ruler of the kingdom.
King Swati III has ruled the kingdom since 1986, with a small group of advisors called the Council of Ministers.